In June 1994, Arthur Chaskalson, senior counsel and the national director of the Legal Resources Centre, was appointed as President of the Constitutional Court by President Nelson Mandela, in consultation with the cabinet and the chief justice of the time, Judge Michael Corbett.

Then began the process to select the Court's other 10 members. The appointment process, set out in the interim constitution, required the president - again, in consultation with the cabinet and the chief justice - to appoint four judges from the ranks of the Supreme Court.

The four were Laurie Ackermann , Richard Goldstone , Tholie Madala and Ismail Mohamed . The president - again after consultation - was then to choose the remaining six judges from a shortlist of 10, sent to him by the Judicial Service Commission. The commission, the members of which are largely drawn from the legal profession and members of Parliament on the basis of proportional representation, was responsible for whittling down the initial list of 100 to 25.

The commission interviewed those on the short list of 25 over four days in October 1994. The interviews lasted about an hour each.

The list was finally reduced to 10 candidates: Justice Johann Kriegler, Justice John Didcott, Advocate Pius Langa SC, Associate Prof Kate O'Regan, Prof Yvonne Mokgoro, Prof Albie Sachs, Prof CJR Dugard, Prof Charles Dlamini SC, Advocate Bernard Ngoepe and Advocate Thembile Skweyiya SC.

Six of these - Johan Kriegler , John Didcott , Pius Langa , kate O'Regan , Yvonne Mokgoro and Albie Sachs - were appointed to the Court. The judges were each to serve a non-renewable term of seven years.

This period was subsequently extended to a period of between 12 and 15 years, depending on the age of the judge when first appointed as a judge.

Constitutional Court judges in 1994

Arthur Chaskalson, Laurie Ackermann , Richard Goldstone , Tholie Madala , Ismail Mohamed , Johan Kriegler , John Didcott , Pius Langa , kate O'Regan , Yvonne Mokgoro and Albie Sachs Current Constitutional Court judges There are 11 judges. The composition of the Court has changed a bit since its inauguration in 1994, but those on the Bench at the moment are: Justice Pius Langa, Justice Tholie Madala, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Justice Sandile Ngcobo, justice Bess Nkabinde, Justice Kate O'Regan, Justice Albie Sachs, Justice Thembile Skweyiya, Justice Johann van der Westhuizen and Justice Zak Yacoob.

The first hearing of the Constitutional Court

On 15 February 1995, the 11 judges took their seats to hear the first case. The case, S v Makwanyane , raised the question of the constitutionality of the death penalty

For three days the judges heard arguments. The facts of the case, in which Makwanyane had been sentenced to death, were not directly relevant: the core issue was what bearing the interim Constitution had on the death penalty. Did the death penalty violate sections 9, 10 and 11(2), which guaranteed every individual the right to life, the right to dignity and the right to be free from torture and cruel punishment?

In its judgment, handed down on 6 June 1995, the Court unanimously found that the death penalty was indeed unconstitutional.

The first judgement

The very first judgment the Court handed down related to the second case it heard

The case S v Zuma concerned the constitutionality of section 217 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which put the burden on an accused who claimed that a written confession to a magistrate had been made under duress, to prove that it had been made under duress. The judgment, delivered on 5 April 1995, struck down this provision as a violation of the presumption of innocence.

Landmark cases

The Court has handed down some judgments that have had a profound impact on the law in South Africa. Some of them, and the themes they have tackled, are:

The death penalty S v Makwanyane (1995) - the death penalty, Mohamed v President of the RSA (2001) - the constitutionality of extraditing an accused person to a country that imposes the death penalty Violence Kaunda & Others v The President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (2004) - The responsibility of the South African government to its citizens who are arrested in other countries S v Baloyi (1999) - the state's constitutional duty to provide effective remedies against domestic violence Rail Commuters Action Group and others v Transnet Ltd t/a Metrorail (2004) - the Equality Hoffmann v South African Airways - employment discrimination against an HIV-positive person Larbi-Odam v MEC in the Department of Education of the North-West Province (1997) - striking down regulations preventing permanent residents from holding permanent posts in the Department of Education National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Justice (1998) - striking down the criminal prohibition on sodomy between consenting adult males National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Home Affairs (1999) - unfair discrimination against same-sex life partners Brink v Kitshoff (1995) - unfair discrimination on grounds of sex and women's access to insurance policies Bhe and Others v The Magistrate, Khayelitsha and Others; Shibi v Sithole and Others; South African Human Rights Commission and Another v President of the Republic of South Africa (2004) - gender equality and the right of African women to inherit under the African customary law of intestate succession Political cases August v Electoral Commission (1999) - right of prisoners to vote Azapo v President of the RSA (1996) - challenge to the TRC's amnesty powers United Democratic Movement v President of the RSA (2002) - constitutionality of amendments allowing "floor-crossing" Certification of the Constitution (1996) Socio-economic rights Government of the RSA v Grootboom (2000) - right to housing Minister of Health v Treatment Action Campaign (2002) - right to health care and access to HIV/Aids treatment Khosa and Others v Minister of Social Development; Mahlaule and Another v Minister of Social Development and Others (2004) - right of access to social security by permanent residents Privacy and religion Case v Minister of Safety and Security (1995) - striking down prohibition on possession of pornography Prince v Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope (2002) - freedom of religion, religious exemption for Rastafarians wanting to smoke marijuana Islamic Unity Convention v Independent Broadcasting Association (2002) - freedom of expression relating to broadcasting code restrictions S v Lawrence (1997) - right to freedom of trade and religion relating to the sale of liquor S v Jordan (2002) - constitutionality of the law criminalising prostitution Criminal procedure and the judiciary S v Zuma (1995) - striking down presumption that a confession was freely and voluntarily made S v Williams (1995) - corporal punishment as a sentence for juveniles declared unconstitutional Carmichele v Minister of Safety and Security (2001) - the duty of courts to develop the common law, in this case concerning duty of police to prevent sexual violence against women Van Rooyen v Minister of Justice (2002) - independence of the judiciary (magistrates)

Source: /thecourt/history.htm#judges s

Collections in the Archives